High Temperature Oxidation of Zirconium Alloys

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Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Darryl Butt


Zirconium alloys are routinely used as fuel cladding materials in nuclear reactors due to the low absorption cross section for thermal neutrons combined with sufficient mechanical properties, and reasonably good corrosion resistance under normal operating conditions. The corrosion behavior of typical zirconium alloys have been investigated extensively in water and steam environments below 500°C. Much less is known about the corrosion behaviors during unexpected transients where temperatures may rise considerably. Previous studies have shown that the corrosion rate is accelerated in air due to the presence of nitrogen. Due to small variations in the alloying substituents certain alloys have been shown to be more resistant to corrosion in air than the industry leading alloys. In this investigation the high temperature air corrosion behavior of three alloys has been characterized with differential scanning calorimetry, thermogravimetric analysis, and electron and optical microscopy. In this study we contrast the differences in oxidation kinetics as well as high temperature phase transformations between the three alloys.

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